Every year, Duvall mom Katie Biron chooses an ornament for each of her four kids that represents their evolving interests. The ornaments range from Matchbox cars to soccer balls and are often homemade. But the one constant is an ornament with an updated family photo.
Katie and her husband Jonathan are the parents of two adopted kids — Emma, 10, and Grayson, 4 — and two biological kids — Charlotte, 8, and Andrew, 5. They’ve fostered many children over the years and are ardent advocates for fostering, reuniting families and open adoption.
“While we’re two separate families, we are one family,” says Katie.
While the Birons were fostering Grayson, his biological mom, Laura, visited the family on many occasions, including special ones such as Christmas. Eventually she asked the Birons to adopt him. “I know she made that decision because she trusted she could still be his mom, too,” says Katie.
The Birons set out on the path to foster care after adopting Emma in an open adoption in Ohio with help from the nonprofit adoption agency Amara, which now specializes in foster care placement. Cultivating a family connection during the open adoption process took hard work, but the Birons are glad they persevered.
“I’ve been passionate for years that there’s a different way to do foster care, and it doesn’t have to be fighting over the child,” says Katie. “It could be coming to a feeling of togetherness in support of a child.”
PHOTO: JOSHUA HUSTON
Even the chickens get in on the festivities.
For the holidays, the Birons give out presents on Christmas Eve. Rather than wasting heaps of paper, Katie chooses a Christmas fabric for each child and sews simple fabric bags to conceal the gifts. “It makes wrapping so delightfully easy,” she says.
The season also means tasty treats — namely, homemade cinnamon rolls. Katie describes her mother’s several-page-long recipe as a “a flowing narrative.” Emma is a huge fan and is now learning the exhaustive recipe herself.
And the recipe for happiness? It looks a lot simpler, and the Birons seem close to mastering it.